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Old 1 Week Ago   #1
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Oil cap sludge.

Morning all,
At the weekend I carried out my quarterly checks (only had the car 3 months) I checked water, oil topped up fluids etc.
I opened the oil filler cap for some reason as I donít usually do it.
It was very stiff to open but once I did!!
I found basically a plug of oil/creamy residue inside the cap and in the engine itself. After the panic had subsided I checked again. Water was fine, dipstick oil was clear so I suspect itís not head gasket.
The dealer has it back to investigate further.
It seems like with the recent cold weather combined with my short journeys to work that the engine isnít getting to optimum temperature causing the condensation build up.
Should hear from the garage today what the likely cause is and Iíd rather look stupid and it be nothing than leave it and the engine seize up.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #2
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

So you didnt need to top.up coolant?

Cars that never get HOT can build levels of this..
Its an emulsion of 'damp air' depositing water in an oily environment

Commonly referred to as Mayo
As its like mayonnaise

Its likely the inside of the camcover has loads of this
Having popped 2 headgaskets ..6 weeks apart..on my old FIRE panda..I know how quickly it can build
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Last edited by varesecrazy; 1 Week Ago at 09:48.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #3
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

Quote Originally Posted by GazzP87 View Post
It seems like with the recent cold weather combined with my short journeys to work that the engine isn’t getting to optimum temperature causing the condensation build up.
That's the most likely cause. Just an inevitable consequence of mostly short journeys in cold weather. Given the current lockdown, not much anyone can do about this.

Fingers crossed it's not more serious.

If everything checks out, I'd remove the cam cover, clean it out, and do an oil & filter change. I'd also clean out the breather hoses; chances are they'll be similarly clogged.

Come to think of it, until we return to normality, all those folks who are now only using their cars for short journeys would do well to carry out an oil/filter change in the spring. Don't assume because you're doing a lower mileage, you can defer servicing; the opposite is the case and a low mileage car actually needs more frequent servicing as the fluids don't get hot enough to burn off the moisture that inevitably collects.
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Last edited by jrkitching; 1 Week Ago at 10:23.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #4
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

I did top up the coolant but it was on minimum and wasn’t dry. I drove it to the dealer which is a 40 minute journey from mine on B roads and motorways. And the car reached temperature with no issues.
It’s squeaky bum time for today until I hear although it’s under warranty.
Maybe I do need an electric car ����*♂️
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Old 1 Week Ago   #5
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Quote Originally Posted by GazzP87 View Post
I did top up the coolant
Maybe I do need an electric car ����*♂️
Lets hope..

Why do you need the hassle of 2 different aircon systems on one car..?

Dealer wont be much more local either
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Old 1 Week Ago   #6
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

It's certainly just condensation.

Just scoop it out (wear rubber/latex/neoprene gloves, since it's not going to be kind to your skin), including the rubber breather pipe, since it'll be in there too.

Every so often (once a week say) try to give the beast a longer run, so that the engine oil gets hot (this is usually a little later than the coolant reaches temperature). A short run at legal speeds on a dual-carriageway or motorway will be just the ticket. And when the car is warmed up, give it a few more revs through the gears, so it helps get the oil working.

Ralf S.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #7
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

I hope you are right!! I will be driving the long way to work from now on!!
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

Quote Originally Posted by GazzP87 View Post
I did top up the coolant but it was on minimum and wasn’t dry. I drove it to the dealer which is a 40 minute journey from mine on B roads and motorways. And the car reached temperature with no issues.
It’s squeaky bum time for today until I hear although it’s under warranty.
Maybe I do need an electric car ����*♂️
Can you remember from previous checks whether the level has always been at minimum when cold? You say you topped it up but maybe that's where the level has always been? I'd not be worrying too much if I were you. As everyone above is saying It's almost certainly a combination of short journeys/cold engine causing condensation to build up which then gets whipped into an emulsion with the engine oil and causes this Mayonnaise to build up. Aluminium is also an excellent conductor of heat so the cam cover tends to stay quite cold for longer than on the old cast iron engines with their pressed steel cam/rocker covers did - all combines to exacerbate the problem. Keeping a regular eye on the level in future would be wise though - I check my levels every week - washer reservoir, brake and clutch fluid, coolant level and engine oil with a quick glance at the wee window on top of the battery - just takes a couple of minutes and keeps the bonnet release cable nice and free running! Tyre pressures I leave a bit longer, probably once a month unless I've got one I'm "worried" might be loosing pressure. I also like to use a white, or light coloured rag (lint free - old underpants work well!) when checking the oil. After you've wiped the dipstick take a look at the oil residue on the rag. Most of the liquid oil will quickly soak into the rag and leave behind any residue. What you are looking for is solids. Of course it'll be dirty and blackish in colour unless it's been changed very recently and a diesel will get it's oil dirty much quicker than a petrol but what you don't want to see are solid little specks or, even worse, little bright "sparkly" specs. Solid dirty black specs - if you "squish" them between your fingers they will be mushy and smear - probably will just mean you should be thinking of changing the oil soon because the oil filter should be catching this. If you see the little sparkly specs then Oh dear, because they are almost certainly tiny bits of metal which have worn off inside bits of the engine and they shouldn't have - best guess is usually the big end or main bearings but many other possibilities exist. I always drain engine oil into a clean container and have a very careful look at it when emptying into my bulk used oil container when doing a service for just this sort of "early warning"

I hear people saying "with the lockdown I must give the car a wee run just to keep the battery up and brakes from seizing". If you are going to do this you really need to go far enough - even if all you're doing is going round and round and round the block - to get the whole engine and it's oil "heat soaked" properly otherwise you are probably doing more harm than good. Typically an engine thermostat will open after a couple of miles or so (it varies car to car) of driving at around the 90 to 98 degrees centigrade water temperature. Nearly all of this temperature will be created in the cylinderhead and at the top of the bores and a lot of it will be dispersed into the heater matrix inside the car. The oil and bottom end of the engine will likely take a good 5 miles or more before coming up to temp and in really cold weather it can take longer as the sump looses temperature to the cold air rushing past it. You are only going to start "decondensing" (is there such a word) the oil and inside of the engine when the temperature is high enough to turn the liquid condensed water back into gas (steam?) and then it's got to find it's way out of the engine via the breather pipes (which may well themselves be blocked with Mayo and probably won't clear themselves without you actually dismantling and blowing them out!).

The lesson to be learned is that frequent short journeys with an engine never getting properly hot - heat soaked - is not a good way to treat your car. I would guess that anything under about a ten mile journey is not going to do the job. The worst engine I've ever seen for this problem was the Vauxhall Viva HA and HB with the wee OHV engine. It had an engine driven fan, as they all did in those days, which rotated all the time driven by the fan belt. The problem was though that the water pump on this engine was mounted quite high up on the front of the block so the fan was also high. this resulted in air being drawn directly over the top of the rocker cover so it was always too cold. Vauxhall actually issued a kit which consisted of a wee metal deflector plate which screwed to the front of the engine - I think to the top 2 water pump fixings? - which was supposed to interrupt the flow of air. It didn't really make any difference. These engines built up so much "Mayo" whenever the weather was cold that you could scoop it out with a soup spoon!
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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

By the way, on the subject of "the mayo". If you want a few minutes of light entertainment. Take a good sized blob of it and put it in the palm of your hand. Then, "puddle" it by gently poking it repeatedly with one of your fingers - I find the middle finger works well - in and out of the blob. After doing this for a while, couple of minutes or so, it varies, if you do it for long enough you will end up with a small blob of dirty looking engine oil and a somewhat bigger blob of surprisingly clean looking water. On the other hand you may not find this kind of activity entertaining enough and have more important things to do? but, once you are old and retired, doing this sort of "stuff" becomes really quite exciting!
Regards from "sad" old Jock
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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

Update-
Garage called and said
“ Hello Gary, the mechanic has called me. He’s done a block test on the head all ok. No signs of leaks anywhere. Driven the car and had it running for hours with temperature all kicking in ok and the header tank hasn’t lost any water so all appears to be ok”
So looks and sounds like it’s the initial thought of a bad case of Mayo!!
Thanks for all the help and advice.
Hope this can help others in future. ..
And relax.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #11
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

Do keep an eye on the levels though..
as I discovered it doesnt take much to become a big issue..

Leaky flange joint on the heater matrix took out 2 x headgaskets in 6 weeks

Enough to write the car off if I couldnt do it myself back then..
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

Good news!

Make sure you give it a run that gets it warmed through and heat soaked, that'll get rid of the condensation.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #13
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

Quote Originally Posted by GazzP87 View Post
Update-
Garage called and said
“ Hello Gary, the mechanic has called me. He’s done a block test on the head all ok. No signs of leaks anywhere. Driven the car and had it running for hours with temperature all kicking in ok and the header tank hasn’t lost any water so all appears to be ok”
So looks and sounds like it’s the initial thought of a bad case of Mayo!!
Thanks for all the help and advice.
Hope this can help others in future. ..
And relax.
My Panda Twin air was similar in late 2018 at a year old. 3 trusted dealers said don't worry but I decided to change the car. I asked GEM technical expert for advice and he confirmed that this issue is prevalent with many makes due to the sealed nature of modern engines. His advice was make sure oil is changed regularly and with the exact grade and type specified. The conditions that cause the contamination should be within the parameters of the oil to cope. My new car is better but the issue is still noticeable.

I have decided that I don't want the water contamination of my oil and am going to fit a catch tank once I have identified what is suitable without altering the crank case breather system and after the warranty period expires. I have two other Fiats that are less bad but these will also get the catch tanks.

My dealer did flush the engine and change the oil at my request but the mayo was back within 2 weeks. Its worrying but not unusual. Follow the other guidance re leaks etc and I suspect you will be OK
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Last edited by The Panda Nut; 1 Week Ago at 23:27.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #14
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

Ive ordered some Selenia Abarth 10W50 Engine Oil. I suspect that when I got it the oil change was with whatever oil the garage used. And not what it needs.
I will do an oil change and check the breather pipe.
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Re: Oil cap sludge.

It's very good you got good news and the head gasket is in good condition.
You have to take into consideration that the water could have gotten inside by the oil itself. Maybe oil was contaminated, had water in it.
Quote Originally Posted by varesecrazy View Post
Its likely the inside of the camcover has loads of this
This is how you can do a proper cleaning of the engine:
You do it before an oil change. Take out of the engine under 1 litre of oil and top up the rest of oil with DIESEL. Turn the engine on and run it for a couple of minutes. The mix of oil and diesel cleans very good inside the engine and lubricates in the same time so no harm done. After that, proceed with oil and filter replacement.
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